Who is giving the public relations industry a bad rep? Other public relations agencies and individual practitioners! Why? There are many reasons, but one very big reason is because they are setting false expectations.
Too often, I see other pr practitioners do an Obi-Wan Kenobi routine on clients.
(Wave hand) This is not the ROI/measurement you are seek… This is…
Beware of those Jedi mind tricks.
It is very easy for a pr practitioner to fall into an enabling role instead of a strategic counseling role requiring honesty and integrity. That is why I am turning to a more modern movie, He’s Just Not That Into You, to help you curve your impulse to steer clear of SMART objectives.
It is important to remind clients (and even yourself) that sometimes the consumer is just not into the client. Your role as a pr practitioner is not to be the supportive girlfriend telling your client everything they want to hear, but the role of “Alex.”
Who is “Alex”? He (you, the pr practitioner) is the guy interpreting the signals of the consumer for the client. He is not overly sensitive and is not afraid to tell the emperor (client) he has no clothes.
Do not be the “girlfriend” practitioner telling the client what they want to hear and thriving off drama. Let go of anxiety and fear…do not feed the beast.
Set reasonable expectations between you, the practitioner, and client.
- Set the tone before the work begins. Your job as a pr practitioner is to guide the client in trusted counsel. If you begin the relationship with a dog-and-pony show, this will be the tone of relationship to the end. Use honesty and integrity as your guide.
- Set limits. Accurately define what communications strategies and tactics can accomplish. Maintain the integrity of communication channels.
- Fire the client. And what if, despite your best efforts, the client continues to demand more than is realistic? Then it may be time to fire the client. You should fire a client if you decide the client is not a good fit and that a long-term relationship will not be successful for both parties. But, when you do fire a client, do it nicely. It never pays to burn bridges.
- Don’t over-promise. Many pr practitioners, eager to please their clients, fall into the trap of promising too much. You do yourself, client and the ultimate consumer a disservice by being dishonest in setting unrealistic objectives.
Even with the best laid expectations, things will not always come to fruition in the way it was intended. There are exceptions to every rule and that is why you want to be “Alex” and admit when you are wrong and move on with those lessons learned.